Technology

PC HotSpot

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There are several fundamental decisions to make when deciding to PC WiFi HotSpot network your computers. If you want the “easiest” way to network your home computers, see the next FAQ. If you want to do this yourself, you should browse through our hardware section. You’ll note that there are several subsections for each of the main technologies now being used or talked about for networking home computers: ethernet, phone wire, WiFi and AC wire. But, in fact, for now, you can really put those in two categories. The first you might think of as “tried and true” and that’s the ethernet technology.

This has been around for a while, mostly for business use. But that time in the “technology curve” has dropped prices considerably and allowed outstanding performance to come to the home for a few dollars. If you are networking computers in the same room, we recommend you don’t hesitate to go the wifi PC hotspot route. Look at our reviews for some of the major manufacturers’ kits that will help you get up and running in no time. If the computers are in different rooms or floors of your house, ethernet can be difficult because it does require a wire to run between the computers.

Now, for those of you who have or can run wires in the walls of your house..go for it. For those of you who find this a “non-starter,” then you’ll want to look at what we see as the other major “category” which could be called “untested” and is basically new PC hotspot technologies that don’t currently have any real standards. There are, however, several groups forming to help drive standards. We have updates on these in the respective subsections of our hardware page.

The technologies were talking about include PC hotspot wifi network systems that use your home’s AC wires, your home’s phone wires or, even, wireless. From what we’ve heard, some of these work OK, some work shakily and some are a real mess. HomePCnetwork will be testing and reviewing many of these new systems, so check our hardware page often.

What’s the easiest way to network two computers?

That’s an easy one…pay someone hundreds or thousands of dollars to come to your house and build one. BUT..for the rest of us who can’t afford that, there are a couple of ways to go.

If you seldom need to network computers (for example, you occassionally bring home a large file from work and it doesn’t fit on a floppy), then you might consider the $15 direct cable connection option discussed in the How to section. That’s what I use to connect my laptop for that occassional huge file that needs to be copied.

Beyond that, there are plenty of Ethernet starter kits with supposedly good directionst to help you do all of the work yourself to install two network cards (NICs) in your computer and set up the hub and cabling systems. Look in the hardware section for reviews of NICs..both current and upcoming.

Finally, you could buy the parts (cheaper than in the kit form) and build with our instructions (and/or others’ instructions). Check out the How to section on Ethernet start up for a discussion of the parts to buy and how to install them.back to top

How much is a homePC network going to cost?

How much do you got? Ha. Seriously, as you can read in the How to section, true networks can start for as little as $15. There are now kits available with two NICs, a hub and cable for about $100. And one company even came out with a 100Mbps ethernet kit for about $130.